Lake Norman & Mooresville

College picks 1st leader of entrepreneurship program

Hannah Levinson

The days of colleges handing graduates their diplomas and sending them off into the world to figure out how their education applies to real life are over.

At least that’s how Davidson College President Carol Quillen sees it.

Colleges and universities are being challenged like never before to prepare graduates for careers in an era when innovation and an ever-evolving economy constantly alter the professional landscape, Quillen says.

“We live in a time of global interdependence and fast-paced change, and the jobs that many of our graduating seniors will hold did not exist when they arrived at Davidson,” Quillen explains.

It will be the charge of Hannah Levinson, Davidson’s first director of entrepreneurship and innovation, to see to it that students not only understand where their college education can take them, but how to create professional opportunities for themselves.

Levinson, 27, comes to Davidson after serving as operations and communication director at the Charlotte office of Social Venture Partners, a global network of philanthropists and entrepreneurs that guides investment into projects that promote social change. Quillen says Levinson’s experience positions her well for her new challenge at Davidson.

“Our entrepreneurship and innovation program seeks to prepare our students to lead, serve and innovate in the quest for new knowledge and solutions within our rapidly changing, interconnected world.” Quillen says. “Hannah’s creative energy and expertise are the perfect fit to grow our program and we are excited to have her on board.”

Through Davidson’s entrepreneurship program, created in 2013, students are encouraged to turn ideas into real companies. They also have the opportunity to earn as much as $25,000 in start-up funding.

“Davidson creates curious, lifelong learners who transform the world,” says Levinson. “Our entrepreneurship and innovation program is a critical part of this (by) fostering our students’ innate abilities and enabling them to respond quickly and meaningfully to the complexities of our global economy and an ever-evolving sociopolitical landscape. This is the liberal arts at its core.”

Levinson’s core responsibilities will be to work with regional and national stakeholders to increase the scope and impact of the program, collaborate with Davidson’s Entrepreneur in Residence to create new opportunities for students and implement programs within the entrepreneurship initiative, including the Davidson Venture Fund and an entrepreneurship lecture series.

“I look forward to partnering with faculty, staff and students to deepen co-curricular offerings that demonstrate the fundamental alignment of a robust liberal arts education with entrepreneurial activity and sensibilities,” Levinson says. “The college’s vision for advancing servant leadership with disproportionate impact makes Davidson the ideal environment for these types of programs.”

Levinson previously worked on U.S. refugee programs with New American Pathways in Atlanta and Church World Service in Washington, D.C. In 2013, she co-produced “From the Back of the Line,” a feature-length documentary that examined the impacts of U.S. immigration policies on families.

She also served as a consultant on projects for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Women’s Impact Fund, Digi-Bridge Inc., TreesCharlotte, Knowmad Technologies and PodKeeper.

Levinson earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a master’s degree in ethics and applied philosophy at UNC Charlotte.

John Deem is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for John? Email him at